Now that Froggy and Hippo are getting older (ages 8 & 5), my collection of busy bags for travel needs a make-over! And so I am starting to collect new ideas of TRAVEL ACTIVITIES FOR BIG KIDS!
These activities can start around age 5 and up. But you may need a young reader for some of them to work. Or be willing to be the reader for your child.
You might notice some similarities to the Travel Activities for Little Kids. Some activities only need a little tweaking as the kiddos get older!
I should mention, too, that I get no compensation for any products that I recommend here 🙂
Whenever possible, I like to store my activities in a busy bag. I bought a case of pencil cases, so I could put one activity in each case. It seemed a bit pricey ($27 for 24 pouches), but the quality was SO much better than the ones I bought at the dollar store, which were not much cheaper in the end! They come in different colors, so I try to color code them as much as possible: purple, green & blue for Hippo; yellow, pink & orange for Froggy. Of course, sometimes they share!
- Mad Libs – (3 and up). You can get this Road Trip version for under $3! Okay, a 3-year-old can’t really do Mad Libs, but if you ask the right questions, he can participate, too! We started doing these when Froggy was 6 and Hippo was 3. Froggy, who goes to a Montessori school, already knew about grammar terms, so it was easy to ask him for nouns, verbs, etc. For Hippo, we would ask more leading questions like, “Name one of your toys” or “Tell us something you do – run? jump? dance?” There is also a Junior version (like this sports-themed one) that uses symbols and gives a list of word ideas.
- Lego’s for older children – (4 and up). I found this AMAZING idea for a LEGO travel storage case on Simple Play Ideas. You take a storage box (she used one from Ikea, but mine didn’t work, so I grabbed one I had bought at the craft store) and glue a LEGO board to the top with super glue. Genius!! Lego’s go inside (whatever you have from your collection), and your child can build on top. I made a smaller one for Hippo, too. (Just be sure the board has a flat-bottomed surface. I tried using a knock-off brand that wasn’t flat on the bottom, and it would not stick. So I cut up one of our green base boards, and it worked like a charm. It was worth cutting one up to make these travel boxes!) Froggy’s big box has sections inside, to keep the pieces separate. Hippo’s smaller box is just one compartment. If your child prefers to follow instructions instead of free-building with the blocks, throw in some challenge cards, like these from Life of a Homeschool Mom
- Brain Quest Flip Decks – (reading-age). As soon as your child can read, this flip deck of questions and answers can be a fun and educational item to pack in his or her carry-on or in the car. The questions are on one side of the card, and the answers are on the back. There are different levels for different ages. (If you click the link here, it takes you to school-aged levels. You can find them for younger children, too – just do a quick search!) They are held together securely to swivel. They make them for younger children, too, but someone would have to do the activities with the child. They also make workbooks.
- Travel Scavenger Hunt – (ages 5+). This one is more for a car trip. You can find all kinds of downloads out there. I made up a set specific to traveling by car in the Netherlands and Germany. You can download them on this post. And I posted about someone else’s scavenger hunt in German on this post. Use picture scavenger hunts for pre-readers, ones with pictures and words for young readers, and hunts with just words for stronger readers.
- Calculator Riddles – (reading-age). I was super excited about this idea! And with good reason. Froggy LOVED them last year! I printed out the cards and bought a small, inexpensive calculator and tossed it all into one of the pencil cases. (Although I may have gotten a calculator that was too cheap, since the battery ran out in the second week of our trip.) You just type in the numbers and turn the calculator upside down to solve the riddle!
- Hangman – (reading-age). I list this game below in the no-props-necessary section, too. But if you want to, you could print out a hangman page and either laminate it or slip it into a sheet protector. Then it becomes a dry-erase game, as long as you have a dry-erase marker. Or these dry-erase crayons (less chance for mess!).
- Geoboard with Rubber Bands – (ages 5+). This is a new activity that I will try out this summer. Hippo has been using something similar in school, so I hope he will enjoy it.
Activities to Do on the Plane – No Props Necessary!
- Hangman – (reading-age). All you need is some blank paper and a pen, pencil, crayon, or marker! (Okay, those are props, but I image you have those with you!) And you can tailor the game to your child based on his or her reading level and interests. I like to play it in German, too 😉
- Scavenger Hunt – (ages 5+). Grab a copy of the airplane magazine and get creative! Can you find a picture of water? How about a woman wearing something checkered? You get the idea! You could also flip through it quickly for some inspiration … and so you know that your challenges can actually be met!
- Some families get new small toys and activities for the trip and wrap them up. Use lots of paper and tape to make opening the gift an activity in and of itself! Hand them out every hour or so.
- Check out Target’s red dot section for inexpensive toys and such to add to your goodie bag. Nothing like NEW, even if it’s small and simple! The Dollar Store works, too.
Clearly, I’m just getting started with this page! Check back over time for more updates. As with my other page of Travel Activities for Little Kids, it will be a work in progress!